Access to Personalised Oncology in Europe, a new report by London School of Economics (LSE) analyses the current challenges of personalised treatments faced by European cancer patients and offers concrete recommendations on how the personalised oncology (PO) can be effectively implemented in all parts of Europe. The report was authored by Dr Panos Kanavos, Director of the Medical Technology Research Group (MTRG) and Associate Professor of International Health Policy, Deputy Director at LSE Health; Dr Jennifer Gill, Associate Director of MTRG, Anna-Maria Fontrier, Senior Researcher of MTRG and Aurelio Miracolo, Research Associate of MTRG.
As the report argues, one of the prioritized recommendations aiming at policy makers states ‘patients should feel empowered as advocates for the integration of PO into their care’. Therefore, we are grateful that, European Cancer Patient Coalition was invited as one of the reviewers, with Francesco de Lorenzo and Kathi Apostolidis, also with Prof. Jaap Verveij from CDDF and some other stakeholders, to foster the patient-centric approach of the document.
The report identifies 3 categories of benefits, which explain the main benefits that personalised cancer care has:
- Benefits for patients: ‘Better patient-related outcomes, better adherence, increases in overall survival and lower risks of side effects.’
- Socioeconomic benefits: ‘The use of Precision Oncology Medicine (PrO) can reduce the length of hospital stays from the average week for patients treated with chemotherapy to an average of 3-4 days for those using PrO therapies.’
- Benefits to health systems: Research has shown that ‘expenses may appear higher in the short term due to the additional cost of companion or biomarker testing, in the longer term there are savings to be made’.
As mentioned above, the authors identified specific recommendations aimed at policy makers, regarding innovation in the personalised oncology arena, as improvements are crucial for patient treatment as well as the final outcome. According to the report, considerable work needs to be done ‘to maximise the potential future impact of Precision Oncology Medicine’ and equitable access across Europe needs to be promoted:
- A European strategy including roadmap for change setting out basic principles and objectives for the future with enhanced levels of European harmonisation and supported by appropriate resources.
- EU harmonisation of ethics approvals to allow the sharing of anonymised, protected patient data in a pan-European network based on appropriate informed consent procedures.
- Incorporation of ‘up-to-date’ information relevant to PO in courses for professionals and practicing clinicians. Patient associations, advocacy groups and clinicians should work towards giving health literacy a higher priority.
- All eligible patients should have access to fully reimbursed, actionable mutation (biomarker) testing built into standardised patient pathways at diagnosis and disease progression.
- Acceptance by HTA agencies of newer trial designs (e.g., basket and umbrella trials).
The report was launched on Monday 30th November 2020 at the event Together against Cancer: How can Europe benefit from breakthroughs in personalised oncology? hosted by the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) together with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (Efpia), the London School of Economics and the Cancer Drug Development Forum (CDDF).
During the event, experts on the matter got the chance to provide a comprehensive overview on the relevance that personalised cancer care has and what needs to be done so cancer patients in Europe can benefit from it. The speakers present at the event were:
- MEP Deirdre Clune (EPP, IE)
- Dr Panos Kanavos, Associate Professor of International Health Policy, LSE
- Prof Mark Lawler, Scientific Committee Member, ECPC
- Prof Jaap Verweij, Managing Director, Cancer Drug Development Forum
- Dr Brian Cuffel, VP and Head of Market Access Oncology, Bayer.
The video recording of the event is available via this link.
 Access to Personalised Oncology in Europe, 2020 LSE, page 32